Video Biography: “The Speed-Dating Version”

Conductor, organist, harpist, and composer, Arlan Sunnarborg holds the degrees Bachelor of Music, St. Olaf College; Master of Music, the University of Michigan; and Doctor of Musical Arts, Manhattan School of Music.  Dr. Sunnarborg’s appointment as director of music at St. Luke’s began in April 2007, following nine years at the Cathedral of St. Andrew, Honolulu.  Other former posts include the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Chorus (interim director), St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Summerville (director of music), The Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, Montreal (director of music), and The Riverside Church, New York City (associate organist).

Studies in conducting included work with Kenneth Jennings (choral), Catherine Comet (orchestral), Gustav Meier (orchestral), and at Tanglewood.  In New York, Dr. Sunnarborg conducted Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols for the Concerts and Lectures Series at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  In Montreal, he conducted choral Christmas concerts for international broadcast for the CBC, and conducted Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Handel’s Messiah with members of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the Choir of The Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul.  In Charleston, he assistant-conducted Henze’s Der Prinz von Homburg for Spoleto Festival USA 1995.  The following year he programmed, prepared, and conducted the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Holiday Concerts, and prepared the 120-voice chorus for Berlioz’ The Damnation of Faust conducted by Charleston Symphony Music Director and Conductor David Stahl, and Verdi’s Requiem, conducted for Spoleto Festival USA by Joseph Flummerfelt.

Dr. Sunnarborg’s organ study began as a young teen in his native northern Minnesota, and continued with college, university, and conservatory teachers Robert Thompson, Robert Glasgow, and John Walker.  In New York, Dr. Sunnarborg was heard weekly in radio broadcasts from The Riverside Church, where in addition to performing annual summer recitals and weekly Sunday services he transcribed and accompanied major choral/orchestral works including Handel’s Messiah, Poulenc’s Gloria, Haydn’s The Creation, Honegger’s King David, and Verdi’s Requiem.  In Charleston, he performed for the Piccolo Spoleto 1996 Organ Recital Series.  He has also been heard in recitals and radio broadcasts in Minnesota, Michigan, Georgia, and the Province of Quebec (Montreal).  In 2009 he opened the Evensong Recital series at the Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta, with works by Franck and Duruflé.

Harp study began relatively late (as a senior in high school) with Kathy Kienzle.  Continuing harp studies were with Frances Miller and Lynne Aspnes.  Numerous solo and chamber performances as harpist include Debussy’s Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp for Piccolo Spoleto 1997, and Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols on the Concerts and Lectures series at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1989.  Also in 1989, Dr. Sunnarborg performed for a live national television broadcast from The Riverside Church on New Year’s Eve.  At St. Luke’s, the harp has been heard for services of Evensong, as well as for the fellowship group, Loaves and Fishes.

As composer, Dr. Sunnarborg wrote Veni Creator Spiritus, an extended anthem in Hawaiian, Latin, and English for double choir and organ for the combined cathedral choirs in Honolulu for Pentecost 1999.  The Bishop’s Mass (2001) is constructed with Hawaiian and English sounding together in counterpoint.  Humbly I adore thee (2002) is an English setting of the Latin plainsong Adoro devote.  The festival concert, Joy of Singing made it’s debut in Honolulu in 2005 as an annual extravaganza for massed choir, orchestra, organ, and audience sing-along.  A live recording was released on compact disc.

Since arriving in Atlanta, new compositions and arrangements include:  “Shalom, Salaam, Peace Be with You”, “St. Luke’s Mass” (Kyrie, Sanctus and Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Pie Jesu, In Paradisum), “Farewell: To those we love but see no longer”, “O Be Joyful”, “We Shall Overcome”, “Softly and Tenderly”, “Amazing Grace”, and “Deep River.” Major commissioned works include: “I Am with You in Spirit”, “Prayer of St. Francis”, and “God with Us.”